Ben Roethlisberger has already hit the reset button.
Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has no problem discussing his team’s miserable 2-6 start. He’d just rather not dwell on it. Last he checked, there’s still half a season to go and eight opportunities to turn the narrative that the Steelers are in decline on its head.
Pittsburgh gets its first chance Sunday against Buffalo (3-6) in what Roethlisberger is likening to a reboot.
“We’re 0-0 right now, trying to get our first win,” he said Wednesday. “And that’s going to have to be the approach the rest of the way out. Winning does help a lot of things, so we’re going to do our best to get that.”
Even if Pittsburgh’s best so far has done little to stop a slide that started a year ago. The Steelers are 5-11 over their past 16 games, not counting a winless preseason they insisted was no big deal.
Rock bottom – they hope – came in a 55-31 dismantling at the hands of New England last Sunday, when the Patriots pumped in 31 points over the final 17 minutes in what became Pittsburgh’s worst statistical defensive performance in the team’s 81-year history.
The Monday video session was gruesome yet oddly encouraging. Even as the deficit mounted, coach Mike Tomlin saw no “blatant” evidence of his team quitting. That includes Roethlisberger, who remained in the game long after things were decided.
“We’re still a group that believes good football is ahead of us,” Tomlin said. “We also acknowledge that we’re a group that needs to improve. That was an opportunity to do that. The healthy guys are going to stay on the field and play with an attempt to move the ball and, obviously, get better at our football.”
It was the same way on the other side of the ball, where safeties Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu kept giving chase even as New England did whatever it wanted, however it wanted.
Polamalu called the mistakes “correctable.” Like Roethlisberger, he’s also not in the mood to declare the season over, adding there will be plenty of time for “hindsight” down the road.
Yes, things aren’t so great at the moment. But there’s time to build momentum. Polamalu is one of seven players who were on the 2006 team that started 2-6 but rallied to finish 8-8.
When reminded about the team’s calamitous first half coming off the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl title, Polamalu just smiled.
“I forgot we were 2-6 that year,” he said. “Next year I’ll probably forget this year.”
Polamalu was kidding, though the truth is not all 2-6 starts are created equal. Pittsburgh’s offseason after its first championship in more than 25 years included Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident six weeks before training camp began. He didn’t play until the season’s second game and wasn’t his usual self until any hope of a playoff spot was gone.
This year Roethlisberger is healthy, or at least as healthy as a player who has absorbed a league-high 32 sacks can be. The players in front of him are not. The Steelers have started five different offensive line combinations, not exactly the best way to build cohesion or anything close to chemistry.
Yet there remains no finger pointing, at least not publicly. The Steelers know there’s no mystical reason they’ve struggled. The things they’re supposed to do, they’re not doing. That doesn’t mean they’re not capable of figuring it out.
“There are many reasons why things happen, why things become difficult,” Clark said. “You still have to go out there and field a team. You still have to have 53 players, 45 of them dress and play good football and we haven’t done it.”
Only three players on the roster were around when Pittsburgh last finished with a losing record. The 2003 team went 6-10 with Tommy Maddox at quarterback. It led to the Steelers drafting Roethlisberger and hatching a renaissance that includes two titles and three Super Bowl appearances.
Though a fourth is nearly out of the question at the moment, guard David DeCastro hardly senses a team ready to fold.
“I don’t think you’re in the business to enjoy losing or enjoy where we’re at,” he said. “But we got ourselves here. Now we’ve got to get ourselves out.”
Notes: The Steelers placed LB Sean Spence on injured reserve Wednesday, meaning he will miss a second straight season because of complications from a left knee injury. Spence said he plans to make it all the way back in 2014. ... CB Ike Taylor and LB Vince Williams did not practice Wednesday while they recover from concussions. ... T Kelvin Beachum (knee), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), C Fernando Velasco (thigh) and TE Heath Miller were limited in practice.
Ben Roethlisberger has already hit the reset button.
SLIDESHOW | CCSHOF inducts five members into its ranks
The Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2014 inductees spoke about chasing dreams, family ties, great teammates and coaches, and hometown roots on Saturday night.
A crowd of 200 attended the 18th induction ceremony held at the Pasquerilla Conference Center as new inductees Leah Hollis, Ed Johnston, John Kasay Sr., Randy Mazey and Tom McGough entered the Hall. Class of 1990 inductee Carlton Haselrig had football added to his original hall of fame credentials as a six-time national wrestling champion.
Central Cambria grad prepping for national CrossFit competition
A Mundys Corner native will participate in a nationly recognized athletic event when he takes his talents to the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games on July 26 in Carson, California.
Luke Espe, 27, will be part of a three-man, three-woman team to take on various fitness challenges.
Quarrick wins ARCA race at Jennerstown
The inaugural visit of the ARCA Truck Series to Jennerstown Speedway Saturday night brought out the largest crowd of the season at the Laurel Highlands oval.
The spectators – estimated at close to 3,000 – witnessed the biggest field of trucks in the series with Keystone state driver Cody Quarrick of Uniontown taking the 50-lap win, his first in the series.
Downs, Hurricanes blank Saints
It didn’t take long for Bedford to pounce on early erraticism from St. Michael pitcher Joe Donoughe during Game 1 of a Cambria County American Legion semifinal series at Forest Hills High School, a game eventually won 3-0 by the Hurricanes.
Of the three batters walked by Donoughe in the first inning, two came around to score while Bedford pitcher Dylan Downs singled up the middle to drive in two runs and give the Hurricanes a three-run lead.
Pirates victorious in extras
Andrew McCutchen tied the game with a solo homer in the ninth inning Saturday night, then connected again in the 11th inning, rallying the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Pirates blew a four-run lead for the second straight night, but managed to come back behind McCutchen, who has more homers against Cincinnati than anyone else since 2009.
Martella’s snags regular-season crown
Martella’s Pharmacy swept a AAABA League interleague doubleheader against Altoona opponents and clinched the local league’s regular-season title on Saturday at Lilly.
Martella’s beat Johnston Realty 11-1 in the early game and defeated Ketrow Insurance 16-2 in the second game to clinch the franchise’s sixth consecutive appearance in the national AAABA Tournament.
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